What your forehand grip means for shot depth and point of contact 

What your forehand grip means for shot depth and point of contact 
Published: 2021-06-11

The grip, this crucial element connection between you, your racquet, and the ball. Take a moment to think about how you hold your tennis racquet when you hit a forehand. The feel of your hand palm likely brings a sense of comfort or reflects the way you enjoy playing.

The grip selection that feels natural to you may differ from your tennis partners. You probably hold your racquet by using in one of the six following grips: 1) continental, 2)eastern, 3)semi-western, 4) western or if you hit a double-handed forehand you would use 5) and 6) submissive or dominant hand on top for double-handed forehands grips like Monica Seles and Marion Bartoli.


Forehand Grip 

At Data Driven Sports Analytics, we decided to dig into more than 5000 matches in between college level and WTA/ATP tours to find more about the implication of forehand grip selection on depth shot and point of contact on the court. We share our data analysis in six diagrams, one for each forehand grip.

Let us start with the majority: close to two-thirds of men and almost 9 out of 10 women use a grip.  We found that the utilization of the semi-western grip results in better depth. In other words, balls hit with semi-western forehand grip land closer and inside to the baseline relative to players using other grips.

The eastern forehand grip is the second most popular for both men and women. Those play closer or inside the baseline relative to players using the semi-western grip. The finding is similar for the rare breed using the continental grip like Stefan Edberg and John McEnroe. Also, players using continental and eastern grips hit slightly less deep on the forehand, on average, than players using the semi-western grip. Players using continental or Eastern grips like to use the ball speed of the opponent, and have less of a swing making it more advantageous for them to play further up in the court.

Another finding that strikes out relates to players using a western grip like Karen Khachanov, as they hit slightly more than half of their balls behind the baseline according to our findings. Particularly, players with western grip hit close to one forehand out of 5 at least 3.5M behind the baseline. One of the big reasons for this court positioning is the need for more time on the swing for players using a western grip.